Interview: Celia Visser

Celia Visser lives and breathes design. Her passion for innovation and quality is matched only by her commitment to client satisfaction. Within the kitchen design industry, she’s respected for consistent excellence that has won her multiple awards, most recently the top honour for kitchen, bedroom and bathroom design at the SBID Awards in London.

We interviewed Celia to find out about her life experiences, inspirations and the qualities and skills that help her stay at the top of her game.

How long have you spent in your current position?

27 years

What job did you have before your current role?

A mother of 4 sons, and prior to that a School Dental Nurse

To date, what has been your career highlight?

My win in London at the SBID Awards in 2018, from 46 countries entered globally. This was affirmation I was on top of my game, not just in NZ as I have won many awards amongst my peers but to win internationally was very exciting.

Public speaking – being able to communicate design to the pubic through seminars and lectures, something I learnt many years ago thanks to Toastmasters. This has become a real passion.

All the wonderful clients who have put their faith in me and my designs for 27 years, this always challenges me to design the best project for each individual client. One that improves their lifestyle and that they just absolutely love.

Who have you admired or learnt from the most in your career and why?

Frank Lloyd Wright – for never giving up even though he went through some very rough times in his career, but then designing some of his best work in the later years of his life even in his 90’s. His designs are still incredible 100 years on.

Fred Van Brandenberg – has shown how NZ design can go global, whose architecture especially in China has taken Gaudi Style to a new level. His architecture is where art and design meet. Very inspirational.

A group of 8 designers who I meet with monthly for education, sharing, support and friendship for over 15 years now.

Are you doing what you thought you’d be doing when you were younger? If not, what type of job did you expect you would have?

No, I never thought I’d be a designer when I was at school, although I have always loved crafts and design.

I thought I’d be a teacher, but I guess I’ve come full circle when I train design students or take seminars – that’s the teacher coming out in me again!

What do you think is the most important quality or skill you need to succeed in your current role?

Confidence in my abilities to design and sell myself to prospective clients. Knowing that I can see things spatially that clients often can’t but also being able to communicate to them in an easy manner, so they trust you and get excited about what you are going to execute for them with your designs. My ethics and reputation are very important attributes in this industry for me. Surrounding yourself with friends and family who believe in me.

What’s one thing you hope to achieve this year, either at work or in your personal life?

Work life balance, always difficult!

Personally – a celebration holiday with my son who gave me his kidney 10 years ago this year.

Workwise – to design and project manage a home for a client whose appreciates great design and money isn’t the overriding factor.

Do you have any tips or advice for those just starting out in the industry?

Training – I believe it’s essential to become a qualified designer and to be inquisitive for your entire career, listening, researching and reading. This will keep you up-to-date and always learning.

Learn to sell – to be a good designer you have to sell yourself first and then your designs. If you don’t have confidence in this area your client’s won’t either, so go on some courses and find out how you can improve.